While the rule of thumb is that in TCS papers the authors are ordered alphabetically, there are some notable counterexamples that comes to mind, wherein the authors are ordered in a different way, e.g.,

What is the story behind the unusual author ordering in these papers?

Are there any other examples of major TCS papers in which the order of the authors is not alphabetical?

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    For a careful (and funny) study of the borderline conferences, you have this paper: Is POPL Mathematics or Science? – Denis Jun 5 '13 at 14:53
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    Seems like a clear CW? – András Salamon Jun 5 '13 at 15:46
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    @András, we don't have a policy of making soft-questions CW AFAIR. The only policy regarding CW is about big-list questions I think. We probably need a new discussion to clarify which questions should be made CW. – Kaveh Jun 5 '13 at 18:31
  • @Kaveh: This is asking for "other examples", and just the ones I am aware of form quite a big list. – András Salamon Jun 5 '13 at 20:09
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    I've thought about this issue as objectively and dispassionately as anyone, and my conclusion is that author ordering for TCS papers should ALWAYS be strictly alphabetical -- always, with no exceptions. – Scott Aaronson Jun 26 '13 at 19:51

A quick bit of googling gives this for the RSA paper:

Rivest stayed up all night, preparing the manuscript describing the code before he handed it to Adleman. He had listed the paper's authors in alphabetical order - Adleman, Rivest, Shamir. Adleman demurred:

I told Ron, 'Take my name off the paper. It's your work'.

But Rivest insisted and eventually prevailed upon him.

I thought, 'Well, it's going to be the least important paper I've ever been on, but in a few years I will need so many lines on my vita to get tenure, ... on the other hand, I did do a substantial amount of intellectual work breaking the codes 1 through 42. So the reasonable thing to do is be the third author'.

The story behind the author ordering of the first paper is explained here. For the other cases I believe there's not much beyond an agreement between authors.

Sometimes an advisor will put their name second so as to have the graduate student's name appear first. This is even more common if the student did most of the work, say, after the thesis advisor suggested the problem.

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    I think that happens mostly in engineering areas. For example in Electrical Engineering it is common to have the advisor's name in the end just for funding the research, even if he/she does not contribute to the research at all. That's why such papers can still be eligible for student paper awards, for example, unlike theoretical computer science. – MCH Jun 10 '13 at 14:46

An example I have in mind is double. The paper Fast parallel computation of polynomials using few processors has two versions:

For the journal version, the reason for having Berkowitz and Rackoff as third and fourth authors is that the original result was only by Valiant and Skyum while Berkowitz and Rackoff helped them to simplify and improve it for the journal version.

But I have no idea why the conference version was already non-alphabetically sorted!

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